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Game changer: Open a bottle of wine without removing the cork

August 02, 2013|By S. Irene Virbila
  • Coravin's new wine preservation system means you can pour a glass of wine without removing the cork.
Coravin's new wine preservation system means you can pour a glass… (Coravin )

Coravin, a company founded by medical device inventor Greg Lambrecht, has introduced a game-changing gadget for preserving wine that allows you to pour a glass of wine without ever removing the cork — and without oxygen ever touching the wine.

A thin, hollow needle is inserted through the cork to extract the wine. As it’s poured out, it’s replaced with inert argon gas from a small, neat canister so that oxygen never touches the wine. Remove the needle and the cork reseals itself. Nifty, yes? But it is $299.

For a room temperature bottle, that sealing happens right away. A cork from a chilled bottle may take a minute or two longer. Meanwhile, the presence of the argon gas means the wine left in the bottle will continue to evolve as it would have naturally. It also means you can return to that same bottle six months or five years later to enjoy another glass.

Obviously, at that price, the system isn't for the casual wine drinker but for wine aficionados who have serious cellars and not many friends with whom to share important bottles. Personally, I can’t imagine any bottle lasting around my household for more than an hour or two after it’s uncorked.

There are those, however, who love wine, but have a spouse or partner who doesn’t drink. Now, instead of hesitating to open a good bottle of wine, knowing they won’t finish it, it’s possible to enjoy a glass of Sine Qua Non or Guigal Côte Rôtie and save the rest of the bottle for another week — or another year.

Think of the other possibilities. For a fancy dinner for two at home, you can open a different bottle of great wine with each course and know whatever’s left in the bottle won’t be wasted. Restaurants will be able to open important bottles without worrying whether they’ll sell the whole bottle that night.

Coravin's inventor Lambrecht came up with the idea when his wife became pregnant with their second child and wasn’t drinking. “Like a lot of people, I wanted a glass of great wine, but didn’t want to open a bottle.” He tried all the wine preservation devices but ultimately, he says, “they all required removing the cork, and once that’s removed the wine is exposed to oxidation. I realized that if I could leave the cork in place and get out only the wine needed for that moment, the cork could continue to do the preservation work it’s been doing since the 17th century.”

And so for the past 14 years he’s built prototype after prototype, experimenting with different needles, different inert gases, different wines and every other variable. He’s conducted countless blind tastings to find out whether the wine had changed at all after he accessed it. He’d go back to the same bottles after a month, three months, six months, a year, even seven years. At first he tasted with fellow wine geeks, but the past few years it’s been with master sommeliers, winemakers, restaurateurs — and wine critic Robert Parker, who is a fan.

Joe Bastianich, partner in the Mozza restaurant group and other Mario Batali projects, was one of the first restaurateurs to try Coravin. Now he’s an investor and spokesman for the project: “It’s really a game changer for the entire wine industry. All of a sudden you can taste any bottle in your cellar without pulling the cork. It will change the way people treat their cellars and the way restaurants serve wine.”

Bastianich has been using the system every night at Del Posto and Otto in New York for a year now. At Del Posto, wines by the glass start at $35 and go up to $400 — the latter, a 1999 Jacobo Conterno "Monfortino" Barolo which goes for $1,800 a bottle.

With this device, wine by the glass service looks very similar to bottle service. The server brings the bottle to the table and without pulling the cork, pours out a glass of wine. Expect to see more restaurants, including Osteria Mozza, using Coravin in future.

Coravin 100 with stand and two pressurized Coravin capsules costs $299 ($279 without the capsules). Capsules, which allow access up to 15 glasses of wines, are $10.95 each. Buy six for $56.95, bringing the price for each to just over $8. However, federal regulations prohibit air travel with them. Get this, though, “If you plan to travel, we will safely ship your Coravin Capsules directly to your destination.”

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Twitter: @sirenevirbila

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